Website design and development is only creative at the surface.

Why is that? Because if you dig deep, the process in its entirety is about research, hard work and execution.

Once you look at it that way, as a business owner who is looking for help in this field, you’ll know what to focus on when you hire a designer/developer for your website, rather than focusing on just the creative aspect that only forms 40% of the gig. Or if you are a website designer/developer yourself, the same applies.

So, what does the ‘process include’ here? How does it all start?

Well, first you begin with a clear and simple checklist.

Why is a checklist or a website design and development project, necessary?

As it would be for any other project, in this too, a checklist will provide a clear direction you’ll need to take for the said project’s fruitful completion.

Secondly, it will help you keep yourself updated with the steps that will have to be categorically executed to see it all through.

For website design and development specifically, it will give you a better idea of deducing what tools can be used where and for what purpose.

Third and most importantly, by going down this route, your cutting down human errors (either your own or your staff’s, to a minimum.

What are these steps on this particular checklist, you ask? Here they are:

#1 Preparation

Everything has to start from somewhere.  And with a project like this, it starts with the client’s brief and preparing yourself to get it done.

Whether you are an outsourcing agency, freelance website designer or developer etc, it all ends and begins with the brief.  So, what do you do next?

The check list in this content should cry the following priorities.

  • In depth research of the brand your designing/ developing for
  • Gather information on the target audience and their preferences.
  • What is the purpose or what is the website trying to achieve?
  • What kind of information should be on there?
  • What kind of visual and graphic design factors are at play here?
  • Get the quotations for the design, copy and other essentials.
  • Accommodating visitor and registered user privileges
  • Is the plan budget friendly?

If the client gives you the green light on this, you can go ahead, and provide your contract for them to sign. Just make sure all of your interactions are on record, no matter how small or silly they seem.

#2 Execute the designs

Now that both you and your client are in on this collaborative effort officially, you can then begin designing the website according to the specifications provided or agreed on, by them.

Basically, you are trying to figure the feel of the website and decide what it is going to take to make it visually enticing for the customers or the viewers.

There’s a LOT that goes into this phase. You will find questioning:

  • Colour schemes
  • Receptivity of the navigation (or the website’s navigational capabilities as a whole)
  • The suitability of blog, content, banners and notification’s layout
  • Wireframes for the landing pages and the like
  • Consistency of the templates used
  • Negative spaces and if they are imperative to the design structure at hand

#3 Initiate the development  

To get things to pick of smoothly, you’ll need a highly competent developer who can keep up with the changes and various aspects of the design that have been decided and put forth by both you and the client.

He/ she must be prepared to code, integrate content and make the website suitable for hosting purposes and more.

The checklist here must include:

  • Getting a domain name for the website and a business email address
  • Familiarity or having someone who is familiar with web developing applications and software such as Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, Joomla etc.
  • Set up a web hosting system by creating a database, uploading the source files etc.
  • Set up the website content
  • Strategize on accessibility and error handling
  • Link the website to the respective social media handles and display their icons on the same
  • Hit the clients with the right questions, such as the number of times they were going to update their website, how is the content going to be sourced?

So on and so forth.

#4 Testing

Obviously, you can’t just drop things right after development and move on to the next big thing. Why? Simply because its unprofessional to go without testing the website and codes.

So what do you have to look for during the testing phase?

  • First off, you need to have the right tools which include, JSLint, CSS Validator and W3C HTML Validator etc.
  • Verify and ensure that the website has been SEO optimized in the right places.
  • Check the quality of the code and user experience.
  • Be very cautious about leaving any dummy text or Lorem Ipsum text behind.
  • To check and see if the links redirect to the right pages, especially in terms of 404 pages and more.

#5 Maintenance and launch

After the website has been designed, developed, and tested, it is now time to officially launch it. But right before you do that just make sure that you move the website from the developer’s server to the hosting server.

Upon doing so, ensure that:

  • The website has been registered on Google WebMasters
  • Update the clients social media platforms in terms of design and structure and link it o the website.
  • Ensure that your URL’s are optimized for search engines and easier for the viewers to access/ remember them
  • Tether the website to visitor tracking software and website backup service and more
  • Ensure that every single page has the right metadata and the images have the right Alt tags.
  • Work on fixing any other details on the feedback provided by the client.

#6 Handing over the deliverables

When you’re all set, you can now have the website go live and officially hand it all over to the client. At this stage make sure that you’ve got it on record that the project has been accomplished as per the client’s wishes without anything left pending.

With this you can also provide the invoice for the services offered and get your finances in order.

This is a detailed representation of the workflow of how a typical website design or development project would look like from start to finish (give or take a few elements that can be of your own). Hopefully these points have given you a better idea of what to and what not to include in your projects in the foreseeable future.

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